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What does soft on drugs mean Editor? Does it mean understanding the problem? How do you define 'soft'? If you have proper education about the damage that drugs cause is that 'soft'? Is 'soft' making sure that all addicts go to rehab? Is 'soft' trying to stop addicts from burglary by giving them the drugs that they would otherwise pay for with their stolen TVs?

Is 'soft' ensuring that however many millions of people who smoke cannabis get heavier punishments and don't overfill our prisons?

Would DC describe himself as 'soft' on drugs?

It is a nightmare subject and one where there are lots of divergent views. The irony of being 'hard' on drugs is that you are making our state more nanny than it is already and I am not sure that that is compatible with what I consider true libertarian and Conservative views.

I agree with you about the harm and damage caused by drug use to others but I don't agree that the only way of reducing drug use long term is to appear glibly 'hard' on drugs just for the benefit of the Daily Mail.

It is long term, it is about education, it may be about raising sentances for dealers, it may be about state provision but it is dangerous to be glib (and all our media contributes to this) about the terms 'hard' and 'soft'.

What it is about is understanding the complexity of the issue and trying to come up with better ways of dealing with the problem.


Drug mis-use is a massive problem in Britain today, and the way in which we deal with drug availability and addiction is critical. I am very disappointed to see that David Cameron has not shown a clearer direction on this. I can only conclude that he is, at the least, equivocal on this issue, when I believe we need strong clear and determined leadership if we are ever to get to grips with it.

Cameron has many good qualities, but he could not be my first choice. In another part of this site is stated the views of Mr. Cameron on the single currency expressed after Black Wednesday, in which he expressed support for the idea in principle. In my opinion we need a leader who expresses consistent views, which we can be reasonably certain are strongly held.


his first test on that score is how long he will hold to his judgement that he doesnt need to answer the drug use question



I think I defined what 'soft' might mean in my post.

A weak position on cannabis and the 'surrender to drugs' policy of harm reduction.

It's not just the Daily Mail that could describe this as 'soft'. You can be sure Labour will, too.

I agree with you that DC's rehab and education policies are good but they're not enough.


Jack Stone

It is obvious with the continual growth in the use of drugs that present policy`s are not working.
I believe that the issue needs to be looked at throughly in a non-patisan way that`s why I believe that before policy is changed there needs to be a througher examination of what is the best way forward with people with all views having an input and the best way to do this is if a all party commission is set up to examine the problem and put forward solutions.
Drugs destroys lives and is one of the most serious issues we face in this country today. The way it as been introduced in this election campaign as been a total disgrace and those who have tryed using the issue for there own ends should be ashamed of themselves.
David Cameron should as he has previously continue to have the courage to put forward new solutions to this problems as any politican who reduces the risk of young people getting hooked on drugs will have the eternal gratitude of every parent in the country.


Sorry I must come across as very naive. I agree there with you that there needs to be more policies than just what Cameron has set out so far, but I think ultimately the right policy is a combination of 'hard' and 'soft'. The trouble with drugs policy however are the massive contradictions involved such as criminalising such a large element of our population, and essentially banning people from doing what they want to do. It is very unfortunate that the political style (non-consensual) and the Daily Mail do not make it easy for a politician to go for the real long term changes that need to be made.

I think when you say he has a weak position - it is a weak position politically - I hope he comes up with some more policies that strengthen that position

I wonder how much of an impediment to getting really successful policies which will really help the country our political atmosphere creates?

Jack Stone

The memo of David Cameron`s about the single currency does not state he supports it. It just states what benefits there may be in joining it.
David Cameron as consistently stated his opposition to the euro and in fact it was the reason stated for not wanting to have a joint ticket with Ken Clarke in this election.
Please lets keep to the facts!

Guido Fawkes

A "hard" policy on drugs has not worked. A realistic policy is required. Locking up every student who smokes a joint is not sensible. Criminalising millions of occasional weekend users of recreational drugs is not sensible.

This kind of authoritarian attitude does not go down well in the real world. Drugs do cause harm, addiction is a terrible thing to suffer and the cost to society is burdensome. But accusing anyone who questions the war on drugs approach as being soft on drugs is silly.

The military/law enforcement war on drugs can't be won, we need a different approach that sees drug addiction as a medical problem, not a criminal problem. The resources wasted on locking up otherwise law abiding grannies and hippies who smoke marijuana is obscene. We don't jail alcoholics, we treat them, that is the more realistic approach we should adopt with drugs.

What is compassionate about jailing a youth who smokes a joint?

Mark O'Brien

Personally, I don't know how to characterise my approach to drugs. I think the war on drugs is a fool's game, and I believe that the controlled distribution of drugs to addicts, combined with treatment and rehabilitation is a necessary approach, and one which has worked where it has been tried. I think that this will cut out the dealer and it should remove the need for the addict to commit crime to fund his addiction. Obviously, I would not hope that hard drugs would be doled out under a scheme like this, but I do think this is a more appropriate response to today's drug problem.

However, at the same time, I am very concerned about what has been described as the ambivalence of the metropolitan elite towards drugs, and this is very much characterised by David Cameron's words and actions in the last few days. Drugs have a far more damaging effect to the rest of society in the inner cities of our country than they do on the trendy urban elites of London, and too often it appears to me that policy-makers in this country who are in favour of a more mature approach to drugs fail to recognise this truth.

Fundamentally, everybody in our society should feel that they have a role in fighting the drugs problem. Parents have a role. Teachers have a role. Charity and the voluntary sector has a role.

But I honestly don't know how to sum up my own position in the debate. I take a tough line on drugs - I'll barely tolerate caffeine, never mind anything else!! But I don't think the politically tough approach has worked. Now is the time for the rest of society to be empowered to do their work in fighting drugs.

henry curteis

Charles Moore says David Davis has failed to show leadership qualities and yet advocates a two Davids run-off. Is this because he's on board with the commentariat's desire to stop Liam Fox?

Liam Fox is the only candidate who is motivated from his beliefs - Charles Moore says. This is clearly the thing that the media fears above all else - a conservative leader and PM with beliefs. They want to play for influence by using manipulation and distortion but against beliefs the media game will be much reduced. This will be most refreshing after the Blair/Major years.


Liam Fox would be the sort of candidate who would have a chance of confounding the critics under a US Presidential system. The problem in the UK is that any leader has to take his parliamentary party with him and is inevitably forced into compromises because he can't disregard the malcontents by compensating by making common cause on issues with people in other parties. For a UK leader to succeed on a clear right or left wing platform a la Thatcher, they must first demonstrate their value to their party by winning elections - which gives them authority. Hence they must start on a moderate platform and move rightwards (or leftwards).



I'm grateful that you're now talking about policy and you're no longer accusing me of smearing DC as you did on your blog of yesterday. That really was unnecessary.

I do not believe that Britain is currently fighting a war on drugs. Drug use is tolerated in much of 'polite' society. The police often turn a blind eye to drug abuse when the real option for every user should be prison or rehab. It cannot be said that a war on drugs has failed until it has been tried. Sweden is a model I would recommend.

Liberalisation of drugs would be disastrous. More people would probably start using drugs (given that the impression would be that drugs are seen as safe-ish) and would become diminished citizens, employees and parents as a result. Neither would we get rid of the black market. It would still exist to supply kids (unless we're suggesting we decriminalise for them too?) and the kind of enhanced drug products that a state-regulated market would still eschew.

Nelson, Norfolk

I think that DDs remarks about DC not answering the question on whether he tried drugs or not will back fire on DD. Whatever happened to DDs policy of not speaking ill of a fellow Conservative.

I think that the vast majority of people will judge DC on his overall policies and not just on one issue.

We are very lucky to have a man like DC in our Party. He is the one that will win us elections and help us to attract new voters to the Conservative cause. I urge your readers to support him for the Leader in the forthcoming Party ballot.

Henry Mackintosh

But Davis *hasn't* spoken ill of another contender, unless you're saying that another contender *has* recently taken Class A drugs. All Davis has done, just like Cameron has done, is state his position. He's entitled, just as Davis is, to do so. I'm entitled to disagree with Cameron's line (both his specific line on drugs policy, and the way he has handled 'him and drugs' in the media). You're entitled to disagree with Davis or me. Wonderful thing pluralism - or at least it is at the moment. I do have my doubts about what sort of opinions, if Cameron posters and their intolerant hissy fits are anything to go by, will be allowed in Dave's New Party, should he ever become leader.

This question, incidentally, *won't* go away, whatever is in tomorrow's papers, or Monday's or Tuesday's. It's not being driven by the London media, it's being driven by the party's grass roots. Sure, plenty of people who post on this site/post under multiple identities on this site say, 'Cameron has nothing to answer: he *shouldn't* therefore be asked anything', but that's not how an awful lot of us in the constituencies see it. And as has been said many times here, and elsewhere, if Cameron makes it through to the hustings, we will want to know whether he has done Class A drugs, and we won't be satisfied with Class A waffle.

When all of this started, we were told it would be like summer rain, and would evaporate quickly. It hasn't, and it isn't going to until Cameron himself comes clean. And I do mean *Cameron* - the sorrows of his relatives are neither here nor there, what matters is the man who wants to lead our party. And at the moment it plainly seems as if he is not being honest with us. It does not augur well for the way he would be party leader, and it fills me with despair for the way he would take us into the general election.


Hang on Editor. Getting drugs now is like buying your morning paper. Ask a junkie how easy it is for him to get drugs and he will appear with a gram of heroin in 5 minutes in every town across the country.

I am not familiar with Sweden but I am sure it would be a difficult comparison because of the ease with which people can move about in the UK, the numbers of immigrants (the heroin importers from Turkey who all live round Edgeware, the size of Liverpool docks as being one of the direct routes into the UK for cocaine, the numerous boats that know when they dump their tonnes of hashish from Morocco they have a huge market in the UK (as opposed to the much smaller one in Sweden); and on top of that the 'glamour' in the media of supposed role models like the most beautiful woman in the world taking cocaine; the most fabulous pop stars rolling spliffs at Glastonbury every year on telly on the BBC!!!

Do you realise that by having the illegality these drugs are actually one of the few ways in modern plastic society that people feel individual and able to make decisions for their own lives because they are not kow towing to the state laws. There are 4 million users of cannabis - that is over 5% of the population.

Britain is a very different place to what it was before. Drugs are here and they are here to stay. Long long term in order to make people turn off drugs because yes they want to function in the morning and yes they want a career is to take away the cache and peer pressure of having them. That means education in a bigger and better way, but it also means that the problem may get worse before it gets better.

Society has to change to think that it is not big or clever to take drugs. Forgive me if I am putting words into your mouth but taking your 'hard' line on I am imagining that you would want to change the way drugs are glamourised in our society so maybe stop the media glamourising drugs, and make it taboo. Under the freedom of speech laws that we have at the moment that is NEVER going to happen.

How do you stop MTV from broadcasting the latest rapper from singing a song about drugs. I mean famously there was a number on hit record about smoking joints about two years ago called "I wanna get high" the lyrics of which were flabbergasting. If you want to make the UK a police state then yes we can go 'hard' on drugs and eliminate them. Not sure what we do about the internet though.

Communist Russia had a great record on drugs as does China - they execute drug dealers there - but will the British people have it. I doubt it, there is no middle way.

I strongly believe that stronger reclassification makes them cooler and more risque, and unless you go for the police state option it cannot work long term because people will always find a way of bringing them in.

Educate our people better, improve the family as a means to bringing up kids, produce more non-drug taking role models in society (get those over paid football players to do some community work) and reduce the cache of drugs. It aint cool to do them.

Combine that with the nearest thing to the death penalty for people dealing in drugs to anybody under the age of 18, and harsher sentances for anybody who interferes with state registered provision and there may be a chance for long term change. Combine this with enforced drug tests for everything whether it be the monthly test at work, getting a mortgage, buying a car, even driving a car people will soon realise that there is too much downside and make up their own minds about it. (But it will get worse before it gets better).

I mean how boring would it be - going to a chemist to get your prescription cocaine for a night out on the town. Especially if you become a registered user. Would that maintain the black market - yes but that is where the harsh sentances come in.

These are all back of envelope thoughts but they derive from what I know of basic human nature and that banning things is intrinsically ineffective

Edward Heron

I have been reading a number of posts and newspaper articles about David Cameron's supposed drug use and his refusal to answer questions. Firstly, can I say that I think he is quite right to refuse to answer questions; anything he adds to his comments so far will only keep the issue alive and lead to more and more questions. Secondly, as a young (well 30 so young for the Party) conservative one of the things that ensures that I will never enter politics in any more than a voluntary capacity is the fact that I don't want my personal life dragged into the public arena. I don't know if David Cameron smoked cannabis and frankly, I don't care. I wouldn't even care if he had tried cocaine. Obviously if he had done any of these things after being elected to Parliament or even possibly since being actively involved in politics, then it would be a different matter, but what he did as a student, well that is a time to try new things and even make a few mistakes, that is how we learn.

Contrary to popular belief, many young people try drugs and escape relatively unharmed, often much more aware of the danger of taking them than those who have never experimented. Would I advise any young person to just say no to drugs, of course I would. Whatever positive feeling you may get from drugs, the damage and the risks far outweigh any perceived benefit, but alas we are not all perfect and many young people will still try these things for themselves.

This leads me back to the main issue. If Conservative Party members really want to modernise the Party, then they will have to accept my generation as we are, and in many cases drugs will have been a brief part of our lives somewhere, whether through our own experience or that of close friends and family. If you don't accept people who have faced the challenges of growing up in the 80s and 90s and come through or only accept those few who held themselves apart from their own peers, what hope is there for our Party's survival? If we can not accept the next generation, faults and all, the Party will either die or worse become a small irrelevant historical faction in the New Britain.

Jack Stone

With his remarks Davis is simply doing what he does most of the time trying to stabb fellow Conservatives in the back.
I think most people agree with DC when he says that its not a person`s dim and distant past that`s importnat but there future.
I don`t think most members believe that doing something wrong in your younger days should count against you when you apply for a job in your middle ages because i`m sure they wouldn`t want there son`s and daughters judged on any of there youthful indiscretions should they apply for a new job.
I think the party will elect David Cameron as leader should MP`s give them a chance because they have realised they have in David a winner.

Ronald Collinson

Contrary to popular belief, many young people try drugs and escape relatively unharmed, often much more aware of the danger of taking them than those who have never experimented.

Perhaps 'many', but not 'most'. As has been mentioned elsewhere, I am likely the youngest contributor to this blog. The full horror of drugs has not been revealed to me, as I have never so much as strayed into an inner city area, but I have observed that the taking of cannabis always coincides with a reduction in academic performance and the development of an antisocial attitude. My personal experiences are, of course, pretty much irrelevant, but I am quite certain that I am not the only person to have perceived this development.

Moreover, the problem is self-perpetuating. People who have taken drugs (who appear to be in the majority) and people who have known those who have engaged in such unsavoury activites (who are even greater in number) are far less likely to condemn it. This creates a society of acceptance. 'It's not that bad, really' people say, and perhaps it is not, in some cases. But it is bad.

The amount of medical evidence against the smoking of cannabis, long held to be the least harmful of illegal substances, is growing rapidly. Despite this, chances of lasting harm are fairly low. But they exist, and the smoking of cannabis is entirely pointless. Despite this, people take it. This is not because of peer pressure, or 'boredom', or any of the silly excuses given. It is because teenagers no longer see any reason not to.

Cameron's words in the Mail are pleasing, and it is when he says such things that I can believe that my fears about his leadership are misplaced. And yet, as the Editor points out, there are vital ommissions. Moreover, he seems to be placing himself in a stance different to that he adopted on the Home Affairs Committee (Blair, of course, was once a member of CND and an avowed Bennite...)

Only time can reveal his true feelings. A better judgement can be made next time a contest rolls around, though I should hope that that will be far in the future. For now, he is untried and untested, and the evidence against him continues to mount.


While I agree that controlling drug use is not easy, the worst thing we could do would be to downgrade them or decriminalise their use. We do not lock up every person who smokes a joint, but short of that we can still make life difficult for them by confiscating their drugs, searching their homes,etc. We can introduce drug testing in schools and universities where necessary and in the work place. We should continue to crack down very hard on dealers.

Being soft on drugs is not a ploicy that I would identify with the Conservative Party and I could not support such a policy. Those who support such a policy would do immense harm to the country.

Female Oxford Graduate

It simply isn't true that 'most people have taken drugs' - they didn't. And I can assure you that those of us who were at Oxford in the mid eighties and didn't take drugs were in the vast majority. David Cameron has now to live with the choices he's freely made in his life, and that's only but right.

I don't know if my Christianity plays any part in my own attitude to drugs, but, I could not readily support a party whose leader had been foolish enough to do them. No doubt my views are "unfashionable" for some of the people who populate this place. All I can say is - your views are your own. There is no evidence that they represent a majority of British public opinion. But even if they did, it wouldn't make them any more right. I hope that the Conservative party, and its leader, will always retain a belief in right and wrong.


As a (sometimes rather noisey) Cameron supporter I thought I'd drop in my thoughts on the Cameron/drugs issue.

I quote "I could not readily support a party whose leader had been foolish enough to do them. No doubt my views are "unfashionable" for some of the people who populate this place." but I could equally have selected other comments.

No one should have to justify supporting a hard line against drugs. For the record I'm in the clear, I've never even smoked. What strikes me most about the drugs debate is that it seems to often be the people who have seen the effects at first hand who call for the strongest line.

I'm pleased that Cameron has acknowledged that the advice on drug classification has now changed, but I would have liked to have seen him nail his colours to the mast and supported those who want to reverse the recent downgrading.

Whether Cameron took drugs is an uncomfortable issue, but if this is the man who can provide a vision for a strong centre right Britain with a social awareness then I think it would be a short-sighted to hold one, serious, mistake against him and prevent the good that could come from having him as leader/PM.

There are those who don't buy into the Cameron vision, and so it is not an issue for them. but personally this is the approach I'm taking and I still remain supportive of a strong message against drugs and also supportive of David Cameron.


Although encouraging to see a Tory leader finally unwilling to follow primitive tabloids like the Mail on drugs policy, the bashing of Cameron's position is just ludicrous.

Dutch drugs policies have resulted in the lowest drugs death rate in Europe, THIRTEEN times lower per capita than Britain's (which is the highest). A further distinction can be made between levels of drug use, which are approximately the same in Britain and the Netherlands, and drug abuse. The Dutch again have far lower levels of the latter, with their heroin addicts aging rapidly. Here the average age of use is falling rapidly, because our drugs policies over the last 30 years have resulted in the double nightmare of kids being hooked young, then being unable to get into rehab. Dutch coffeeshops mean youngsters buying cannabis never come into contact with heroin/crack dealers, and thus don't get hooked in the first place.

As for being "tough on drugs", this is more tabloid-think. Iran executes both dealers and many users, yet has in the region of 1.5 million heroin addicts. Drug abuse is a social and health problem - attacking it with criminalisation has failed horrendously in the past, and will continue to do so in the future.

As for the previous poster: a correlation between cannabis users and academic performance? I know countless current and past PhD students who have and continue to smoke it on occasion. Also, you may find it "pointless", but that's just a meaningless subjective position. All it reveals is that you can't comprehend their motivations, which is an unhelpful perspective to be advocating wide-ranging social policy from.


I have just watched David Davis on Amanda & Platell on the drugs issue and it was nothing like the way it was portrayed in the press. He did not denigrate David Cameron in any way and, indeed, looked rather uncomfortable discussing him at all saying if they wanted answers to have David Cameron on and not him. Just goes to show don't believe all you read.


I agree, Andrew. Davis responded to some frankly pathetic questioning in the best way possible. If only the media would actially take Cameron to task over his complete lack of a policy programme rather than persisting with this pointless nonsense about what he did or didn't do at university. The way its going, Cameron will have no chance as leader as his image will already be permanently tarnished by this.


carol42 and Colonel are completely right. The Times and Telegraph hyped/ distorted DD's reasonable response to persistent questioning.

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